What is a Wake?

Wakes have existed in England since Anglo-Saxon times and were vigils kept in commemoration of the dedication of parish churches.  These Wakes soon degenerated into fairs, people from neighbouring parishes journeyed over to join in the merrymaking, & drunkenness became a scandal! In April 1247, Henry 3rd visiting Campden confirmed the charter that had been given at the end of the 12th century. From this information it appears that Ranulph de Blundeville had made additional grants to the burgess for a fair to be held on St James' Day & the two following days.

The manor of Campden had long been associated with St James even before the parish church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin was rededicated to this saint, James the Greater.

At some early fairs it was said that girls & lads sang for pigeons! There was some controversy over the girl who won the pigeons & too long to detail here but this resulted in a great fight. Men of the county heard this & came armed with bows & other weapons!

Evidence of Wakes being held for at least two centuries is as follows:
‘In the Campden Chemist’s shop’ (writes a Journal reporter) ‘I read a poster which had advertised the Dover’s meeting of 1818. It was displayed beside the bills announcing Saturday’s festivities.’
The reporter went on to say
‘Last Saturday afternoon at Scuttlebrook, pageantry & games were reintroduced into the ancient Whitsuntide Wake.

In the second half of the 19th century nothing remained of Dover’s meeting but a fair took place on Saturdays in the Campden market place which enabled it to avoid the restriction of the enclosure system. This fair, that from 1887 forward was called Scuttlebrook Wake, eventually developed it’s own programme, which has hardly gone under any noteworthy changes to the present day. The study concluded by saying that in the 19th century the fair tended to be an insignificant appendage of the Wake.

In 1887 three travelling showmen, members of the Buckland, Hatwell & Holyfield family approached the elders of Campden asking permission to hold a fair  on the Saturday of Whit week. They offered up a bond of 25 guineas as insurance against any damage that they may cause to buildings. The elders replied that there was a law forbidding fairs in Campden High Street but after discussion agreed a fair  to concur with the Wake may take place in Leysbourne.  


For these reasons they couldn’t advertise the fair as being held in Campden and following some discussion one of the Showmen suggested calling it after the little stream that ran through Leysbourne. They were told that some called it Cattle Brook & some called it Scuttlebrook & henceforth it was known far & wide as ‘Ye Wake of Scuttlebrook.’  The Cattle brook was said to have restorative powers where the shin kickers from Dover’s Meeting bathed their wounds.

A descendant of the Hatwells passed the information on this page to their friend, Peter Shadbolt. This included the memory of bathing his feet in the Scuttle Brook and that Campden was his favourite destination on the Fairground circuit.

The Hatwell family today would be considerably smaller if luck hadn’t been on their side when in 1932 on the Sunday morning following the fair, a horse chestnut tree fell across two living wagons of both Georges Hatwell senior & junior. The tree wrecked both their wagons as well as Kimberley’s fish & chip wagon.